….Relax….Release….Let Go! 

“Won’t you come celebrate with me,  that everyday something has tried to kill me and has failed…” Lucille Clifton 

So this weekend I had the privilege of attending a beautiful yoga mini-retreat event entitled Starshine & Clay: A place for Women of Color to be led by one of my favorite yoga teachers and mentor Octavia Raheem at her Atlanta-based studio Sacred Chill West... It’s hard to believe that I’ve been sitting under the teachings of my beautiful yoga soulsister since 2013, from studio classes to yoga festivals, and each time its always an amazingly soulful and radiant experience…

With all that has transpired good and bad, positive and negative over the course of my 2017, this was a much needed pre-holiday season detox and refresher experience in preparation for the newness of 2018. I experienced an amazing yin yoga and meditation practice with yoga nidra, and  set my intentions for the holiday season as well as my plans for the upcoming year. I met so many amazing women and enjoyed a delicious fellowship dinner with them after the yoga practice compliments of catering from Atlanta-based vegan chef  Jamila Crawford Pecou of Earth Candy Arts

The pictures below are of the many delicious, vegan culinary creations listed in the menu above…

After a very nourishing night of a mindfully healing practice and delicious soul nourishing vegan cuisine, I can truly say that I am on my way to creating space in my heart and mind for the positive changes and exciting adventures that this holiday season and the start of 2018 have in store for me….

Its time to relax…release…and let go of 2017 and anything negative that may have happened this year, and to begin speaking intentionally to ourselves  and others as humans and as women.

INHALE….

“….I AM”

EXHALE…..

“….worthy

     …..powerful

         …..creative

                ……peace

                       ……truth

                                ……..love 

                                            …..light “

So until next time, continue to speak your truth, creating the kind of life that’s nourishing to your life as well as the lives of others, remembering this one truth, each day telling yourself …that “I AM love”…and that “LOVE is art” and a work of ART is surely what we are, “somewhere on the bridge between Starshine & Clay” (Lucille Clifton). 

So until next time,  just Breathe ….relax…release…and let go!
~ I AM CANDICE MARIA ~ and this is CANDICE MARIA’S FIT LIFE ~

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****DISCLAIMER**** 

Sensitive topic alert!

Never thought I’d see the day when I’d feel this way. When fitness and training, for general health and well-being as well as sports and competing,   becomes more of a chore and a struggle than an enjoyable act of self improvement. Because everyone knows…

However for the past month, I have awaken every morning bag packed headed to the gym with no pep in my step,  no passion, no excitement,  no joy! Like a cloud of despair and defeat looms over my head. I started to feel somewhat just FIT(ish) … going through the motions with no true desire to really be in the gym working out or home prepping meals and counting macros, etc. but all the while frustrated about my tendency for overeating (future blog post), the ever climbing numbers on the scale and the tightening of clothes that once fit just fine.

Part of it is sheer exhaustion and fatigue from the rigors of recent changes and transitions in my professional nursing career, that will eventually settle out once I get on a stable life-work schedule and routine. A second part of it is also sheer discomfort and pain, as a result of past injuries and musculoskeletal imbalances that nag my aging frame at now 35 years of age, that will also resolve with routine trips to therapy and adequate rest.

But lastly, a third part  to my lack of drive is more recent, and many will say its resolvable as well, as it simply requires mental toughness. But how easy is mental toughness and resilience when the very act of lifting weights and training, despite my recent decision to never return to the bodybuilding stage (details in a future post), these activities become a constant reminder of a poor decision made just a few short months ago, and the individual involved who hurt you and damaged your trust in them and consequently your ability to trust in general.

Emotional pain has a tendency to manifest itself in psychosomatic fashion, and the physical pain and fatigue experienced in the first two reasons mentioned for my lack of drive to workout and train could also be a result of the following scenario I’m about to share:
How do you find focus or enjoyment in your training when a lot of who you are, and how you train developed from the past trusted coach-athlete relationship you once had with the previously mentioned individual over three years ago. Despite no longer being in a coach-athlete relationship context with this person, and having developed a more personal relationship  in recent months, you find yourself in a situation of being betrayed to a point of no return.

So many levels of emotion and gray areas of confusion and emotion run through my mind daily since I learned the truth about this person. Not only as a Christian, professional career woman and an adult athlete, but also as a coach and trainer myself, it’s hard to grasp the complexity of the intentions this individual may have truly had from the beginning in the past during our coach-athlete relationship and based on the behaviors that occurred in the present during a more personal relationship with this individual. The blurred lines, the recent lies, and the mixed communication, etc. How do you catch all the warning signs without being blindsided?

It’s like everything you once thought you knew about a person is damaged eternally, because the trust you once had for them personally and professionally was a lie. Furthermore, the confidence you once had in yourself, your previous sport, your training and nutrition routine,  and even your own morals feels like it has died. You feel shame, guilt, defeat, doubt, depression, and simply a sense of lost control over how you manage yourself in relationships.

Currently, as a USATF Masters Athlete member of the board and association chair person for disabled youth track and field preparing for my officials credentials , I’m in the process of taking the U.S. SafeSport training. In watching and reading through the lessons in each of the training modules, all I can think about is how these same issues of safety, trust and respect, the dynamics of the coach-athlete relationship, consent, power imbalances, emotional, physical, and sexual misconduct, etc. that happens in youth sports, also happens to adult athletes as well, but in more subtle ways that rest in a gray area of “Oh you’re an adult, so you should know better” or “you knew what you were getting into”.

However, lies, manipulative intentions, and predatorial actions, despite asking the appropriate questions and no matter the age of the coach and/or athlete (whether present or former), are still unacceptable. Especially when one side of the situation has no remorse or sense of a need to at least be honest or apologize for misleading the other person.

In such cases, the athlete is essentially left to pick up the pieces of the sports activities they once enjoyed and learn to love themselves again, understand that they are not to blame themselves for what happen, regain a sense of control, and surround themselves with the people who truly have their best interest at heart.

In an effort to not go into any further details on this topic, I will close with this: What do you do when it’s not FUN anymore….? Forgive,  Forget, and Move Forward. Train harder and live well. Let your negative thoughts drive you to be your best, thinking about it won’t change what happened to you, but your actions and choices you make going forward can change you, and that is the only thing you can control. As my belief system puts it, God will deal with those who hurt you, it’s not your battle to fight! So be blessed.

I do not consider myself a “VICTIM” in this situation, but instead a “VICTOR” because I learned the truth, despite how painful it was, and I got away before things could get any worse. The take home lesson in all of this is to always stay vigilant,  question everything, and if the answers aren’t good enough,  question it again…#StayWoke!

Watch and Pray 
Threats to your personal and professional morality and sense of self-worth are always around in every sport, at every age! As a matter of fact in every area of life itself because, not to start preaching,  but we are in a spiritual war (Read Ephesians 6:10-2).

So despite the recent incidents in my life, one thing is certain, and that’s that God has kept his hand on me on this journey. When I think about my bodybuilding journey in particular, I realized so many beautiful aspects about myself that for years I never realized or considered possible. I learned to love myself, embrace my perfectly imperfect frame and developed a undescribable sense of peace and zeal for life that so many people could not understand or even comprehend (Phil.4:7),  not even the person who helped me get back into the sport and eventually betrayed me years later. So credit is owed where is due, to God! For everything I am and still becoming, it was all God’s doing all the time. He created this athlete that stands before you and is still working on, in, and through me!

Situational setbacks can make you lose sight of the ONE who instilled your passion and enjoyment in your most loved activities. For me it was my personal fitness journey and athletic accomplishments.  Throughout my past and present athletic endeavors I learned so many things about myself,  I enjoyed the self improvements that I made in my 3rd decade of life and continue to set my eyes on God for the direction He wants to take this journey in next decade, and the one’s to come, because all the actual work back then and even now was performed by yours truly by the grace and hand of the Almighty God. To Him be the Glory and the Power Forever!

So until next time….on a lighter happier side of life …

~ I AM (still) CANDICE MARIA ~ and this is (still) ~CANDICE MARIA’S  FIT LIFE ~

 

Welcome to Days 8 & 9 of 31 Days of Mindfulness and Meatless October Challenge late post due to some recent travel for teaching and training ….

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Mindful Minute

Move everyday. Moving heals. Sitting kills.

~ Candice Maria ~

Kind of self- explanatory. You know the old adage, if you “don’t use it, you lose it”? Well daily mindful movement is no exception. The same as skipping out on strength and resistance training causes loss of muscle mass, strength, and a slower metabolism. Not moving at all, or living a sedentary lifestyle causes even more drastic health problems over time. In the book Sitting Kills, Moving Heals: How Simple Everyday Movement Will Prevent Pain, Illness, and Early Death — and Exercise Alone Won’t, Dr. Joan Vernikos, a former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division, presents a comprehensive scientific explanation for why Americans are so unhealthy. Numerous medical studies have proven that sitting too much shortens lifespan, even in people who exercise regularly, but what’s the reason? Dr. Vernikos explains in the following video:

 

 

So even if you are not a “gym” person, mindful movement everyday, whether its taking frequent mobility breaks at work, especially if you have a desk job like yours truly (insert side eye #thestruggleisreal); stretching or doing yoga frequently throughout the day, or whatever small movements you can do outside of walking to and from your car at the start and end of your workday, or going to the gym before and/or after work, is beneficial to your general health and well-being.

So during your mindful mobility yoga practice today, think about creative ways to add more movement into your daily routine!

Again, if you are keeping a journal during this journey, you may also want to jot these ideas down for future reference.

Mindful Mobility WOD

Today as you did yesterday, you will complete a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio and at least 1 Round (or as many as your body needs) of the Sun Salutation A sequence as prehab before and/or after or even during your other resistance training or athletic activities today.

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Meatless Meal of the Day (MOD)

 

Today’s featured Meatless MOD is Candied Walnut Quinoa from the Trifecta Nutrition System organic meal delivery Vegan/Vegetarian meal plan

Ingredient List:

  • Quinoa*
  • Onion*
  • Cauliflower*
  • Brussel sprouts*
  • Asparagus*
  • Cranberry*
  • Walnut*
  • Extra virgin olive oil*
  • Balsamic vinegar*
  • Coconut sugar*
  • Grade B maple syrup*
  • Garlic*
  • Parsley*
  • Thyme*
  • Marioram*
  • Coriander*
  • Turmeric*
  • Mustard seed*
  • Cumin*
  • Fenugreek*
  • Paprika*
  • Cayenne*
  • Cardamom*
  • Nutmeg*
  • Cinnamon*
  • Clove*
  • Black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Filtered water

*Organic

Nutrition Facts (The Macros):

Serving Size: ~ 160 grams

 



This concludes Day 5 of 31 Days of Mindfulness and Meatless October Challenge…see you on Day 6.

Until next time ~ I AM CANDICE MARIA ~

 

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So today I am celebrating 35 years of life, and will be spending the entire month of October doing all of the awesome fit and fun things I love the most!

So to continue a list from a previous post from about 3 years ago with a countdown to the 32nd celebration of the day of my birth, here is a continuation of that list with now 35 additional things I have learned and fallen in love with about my life to date. Once again in no particular order, but just as they came to mind over the course of the past few days:

#35 – No net…live as if there’s no turning back, no do-overs, no safety net to catch you when you fall. Travel light!

#34 – Discretion is a decision. The world only knows what you decide to tell them…Surrender to Silence. People will always think they know you when they really don’t

#33 – Hold your mule…in the stillness of life…love happens. Wait for it. Pray for it. Be still and know that it’s happening.

#32 – It’s okay to let go

#31 – Not everyone will understand you, but those that matter will, and will cherish what you have to offer

#30 – Love yourself first, it’s not selfish.

#29 – Consciousness is your friend, think before you act

#28 – Fitness is the fountain of youth

#27 – Be present, let people know that you care

#26 – Failure is never an option, but a choice

#25 – Plan for success and believe in your plan

#24 – Take chances, put your neck in the noose of life

#23 – Food is for physiological nourishment, not mental pleasure, practice santosha

#22 – Ask questions, answer questions, nothing’s off limits for debate or change

#21 – Be fearless

#20 – Take the road less traveled

#19 – Be outstanding

#18 – Root to Rise

#17 – Follow your dreams, they know the path to your true happiness

#16 – Dare to dream, and dream BIG!

#15 – Keep growing. Keep living!

#14 – Be transparent, live out loud

#13 – Live such an fascinating life, that it’s open book worthy

#12 – Reach your goals, but take time to listen to the goals of others

#11 – Be a light…enlightenment is a gift

#10 – Shock yourself, then go out and shock the world

#9 – Do any and everything you ever thought about doing

#8 – Never let anyone tell you what you can’t do

#7 – Can’t is not a word in my vocabulary, it’s meaningless

#6 – Eat breakfast

#5 – Move everyday. Moving heals. Sitting kills.

#4 – Become obsessed with you, there’s only one, love it to pieces

#3 – Take the keys and drive into your future, don’t sit back and wait for others to give you permission

#2 – Love people for who and what they are, and don’t be afraid to leave them where you found them, you only control you, love and protect that!

#1 – Pray every day!

As the days and the weeks roll by, I am certain there will be more that comes to mind. However I won’t spoil God’s timing and save those for the next celebration of my birth year post, and I will try not to let 3 years fly by without an update….. This past year has been a year of some pretty big and exciting milestones, so I can only imagine what Chapter 35 has in store as I travel into yet another year of life. So, until next time. … #LoveGod … #LoveYourself in order to #LoveOthers

~ I AM CANDICE MARIA ~ and this is ~ CANDICE MARIA’S FIT LIFE ~

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Welcome to the October Challenge: #31DaysofMindfulness and #MeatlessOctober! This challenge is a collaborative project to promote the implementation of mindful self-care practices and health conscious nutritional choices.

So what exactly is Mindfulness you ask? In its simplest definition it is “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”

During this challenge you will be challenged to become more aware or conscious of three things: 1) your daily mood and state of mind, 2) how you treat your body physically, and 3) what you feed your body nutritionally.

Mindful Minute

Beginning with the ‘Mindful Minute’. This “Mental WOD” is designed to be a self-reflective moment in the course of your day to promote positive self-talk, daily inspiration, and inner peace in the chaos of your day to day life. Each daily reflective thought is very personal in nature as they come straight from the heart of yours truly. So get your heart strings ready for a reflective journey into the source of your daily moods, attitudes, and thoughts towards yourself and the world around you. Challenge yourself to incorporate these reflective thoughts into your daily mindful mobility yoga practice to help you focus your intentions for the workout and the journey ahead.

Mindful Mobility WOD

The next component of the challenge day involves mindful movement with the mindful mobility WOD. In this part of the challenge, we will embark on a daily flexibility and mobility journey to promote daily physical self-care using a basic yoga sequence to help you cultivate a routine flexibility conditioning practice.

Why yoga? There are numerous health benefits to a regular yoga practice outside of general flexibility and improved mobility. The following link from Yoga Journal outlines a long list of about 38 Health Benefits of a regular yoga practice.

Prehab vs Rehab. Practicing prehabilitation helps to prevent the need for rehabilitation from injuries caused by not being mindful of your body’s imbalances. Prehab, as defined by National Institute of Health, is used by doctors to prepare a patient for the inactivity associated with post surgical procedures. However, prehabilitation (prehab) goes much further than that and into everyday life. Many physical therapists and athletic trainers use prehab as part of a daily program to help prevent nagging injuries in clients that are caused by physical imbalances as well as the larger ones that can be caused by athletic injuries and require surgery. 

Cultivating a consistent personal prehab self-care routine can help to prevent injuries by allowing you to discover and focus on correcting your body’s imbalances. In general a good prehab program consists of warming-up, stretching to full range of motion such as in a regular yoga practice, a cardiovascular component like walking or swimming, and a resistance training component mixed with functional movements that relate to everyday life. All in all regular yoga and flexibility/mobility practices are an important key component to any personal prehab program.

Meatless Meal of the Day (MOD)

Why Meatless you may also ask? Studies have shown that a plant-based diet has many benefits to an individual’s overall well-being and the only  two commonly associated risks with a plant-based diet are inadequate protein intake, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies, both of which can be remedied with proper protein, vitamin, and mineral supplementation, such as through products from Garden of Life brand, which provide organic, raw, certified vegan and gluten free protein, vitamin, and mineral supplements. So don’t let the ‘risk’ of missing protein and nutrients scare you from this journey.

Each day will feature a Meatless Meal of the Day (MOD) idea to try at home if you like getting creative in the kitchen. I personally due to my hectic work-life schedule order my meatless meals from a meal delivery service called Trifecta Nutrition , just choose the Vegan or Vegetarian meal plan depending on how meatless you are ready to be.

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Trifecta nutrition Sweet Potato Chickpea Salad

As you know there are differences between Vegan and Vegetarian, as well as differing forms of Vegetarianism. Veganism omits everything from animals, the meat of animals and their products (eggs, milk, cheese, etc.) True vegetarianism is similar to veganism, however, there are variations and exceptions that some use for individual reasons and preferences, such as ovo-vegetarianism which allows for the consumption of eggs, lacto-vegetarianism, which allows for the consumption of milk and dairy products, and pescatarianism which allows for the consumption of fish and seafood.

So whatever route you choose to take in this Meatless October journey, choose what works best for your personal health goals and overall well-being. The goal here is to make health conscious and physically nourishing decisions about the foods you choose to consume on a daily basis. 

So welcome to #31DaysofMindfulness and #MeatlessOctober I look forward to enjoying this nourishing journey with all of you!

See you all for Day 1….until then ~ I AM CANDICE MARIA ~

 

So, May 15th concluded my participation in the Squat Every Day bodybuilding challenge. I was asked by a fellow member of the bodybuilding community how my personal experience was. My thoughts and reflections are as follows:

I liked it, it was very empowering for me actually. Recovery was good up until my final days when my quads started screaming bloody murder, and effecting my energy levels for the rest of my lifts, still trying to give them breaks but it’s hard because you use your quads for everything, just basic everyday walking around uses your quads, I experienced a lot of fatigue in my last week of it and had to up my calories which sucked being so close to a competition, but overall I accomplished my goal of having much more definition in my quads! Now to get back to goal weight before next weekend and I’m good to go!

I will be hitting the stage for the following next three weekends, yes I said 3! So my training routine has changed simply because certain muscle groups require more detailed emphasis, while others need more rest leading up to competition day in order to ensure every muscle displays well. The following videos are simply just a small glimpse into how my daily squatting activity went. I alternated light and heavy squatting days, primarily to allow time for my muscles to recover.

So would I do it all over again, sure will. It was very empowering, to get up everyday and before I did any other component of that day’s workout, I hit the squat rack. It definitely trained my mental focus. The kind of focus one needs to be laser sharp ready for the day they hit the stage. I almost felt lost going into the gym the first few days afterwards and not doing it. Either way, lift heavy and lift often, and squat everyday.

Until next time…. I AM CANDICE MARIA

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1 Week Out to Competition Season 2015

A video of one of my most memorable fitness adventures to date! AFAA workshop presenter, competition prep, my nursing career, fitness equipment face-off, motivation, and more!

So I decided to also start a weekly video blog of humorous random rants, fitness and competition prep tips, motivation, jokes, and day in the life silly stuff that I am experiencing during my final weeks leading up to the stage. I will update this post with the videos from my YouTube channel on an ongoing basis. Get ready to enjoy some MO (Motivation) & JO (Jokes) to get you through your week: